Windows to run on ARM processors by 2013

ARM believes Microsoft will soon need to create an "agnostic Windows" to retain its hold on the market

Stuart Turton
27 Jul 2009

Windows will need to be running on ARM processors by 2013, according to an ARM executive.

ARM designs the processors which power the majority of the world's smartphones, including the iPhone and the Palm Pre. They also pop up in everything from hard drive controllers to Bluetooth chips.

There was buzz early in the year that Microsoft was working on porting Windows 7 to ARM's architecture, opening the way for the processor designer to really take the fight to Intel in the netbook arena. This hope was promptly dismissed by Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's corporate vice-president for OEMs, who claimed the move "just wouldn't work very well".

However, ARM processors are now beginning to appear in netbooks via Qualcomm's SnapDragon platform and speaking to PC Pro, ARM's director of mobile computing, Bob Morris, claimed Microsoft may soon be forced to break the long-standing Wintel duopoly.

"Windows 7 on ARM is not a technical problem, it's a business problem. If you've got a major operating system, not even considering the legacy stuff, and think about all the stuff that has to be ported over to a new architecture, it's a major financial commitment. Microsoft as a company really needs a reason to make that financial commitment, and we believe it's close to that commitment," said Morris.

"I can't comment on what Microsoft's going to do, but by 2013 we believe we'll have 75% of this [portable devices, HDTVs and set-top boxes] market and if Microsoft doesn't support us, it's going to be missing a very big slice of the pie. The pressure's getting to the point where it's going to have to be agnostic."

The rest of this interview, including Morris's thoughts on how ARM can topple Intel's netbook dominance, will be available in next month's issue of PC Pro.

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